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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Using the last name of someone in real life.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Feb 22, 2011.

    Remember when I talked about Omar Baitey? The action hero who explored the world and collected artifacts? Well, his last name is the last name of a Muslim friend I had back in highschool. (The friend in question was Mohammad Baitey.)

    My question is, I really do like the name Omar Baitey but...I'm worried about what my friend would think if I used his name.

    Is it okay if I just used it anyway, making sure I have Omar Baitey be completely different from my highschool friend? After all, I'm sure the name Baitey's pretty common.

    Same with the professor I have this semester for my Survey of American Lit class. His last name is Sugimori and I love it! What should I do if I wanted to create a Japanese character who's last name was Sugimori? Just go ahead and give that fellow his own characteristics that are not like my professor or should I pick another last name?
     
  2. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes on both counts. Unless you use actual characteristics and defame them in some manner, it should be fine to use them in another context and time. I have used the names of people I have known in my writing but it probably does not matter, not much chance any of it will see the light of day.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Ah, so Omar Baitey and Mr. Sugimori are good to go to be characters. :D All right, guys! Get ready for some character development while I decide where to put you two!
     
  4. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    I don't think you'll have any problem using their names. After all, there must be dozens of people with the same name. If you don't mention to the people you'd borrowed names from, I'm sure they wouldn't even have a way to make sure it was from them you'd borrowed. *widens eyes looking back at the huge sentence* :)
     
  5. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know whats even easier, write the novel, and then send them an email and ask them. (No reason to ask for a work that you don't finish, right?)

    "Hey I was in your class in 2003, and I got a bit off an odd question to ask you. I written and a novel I think you got an awesome last name and would like to use it on a character, otherwise totally unrelated to you. "
     
  6. mattyb
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    mattyb Member

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    Yeah, ask them if possible but they probably won't have a problem with it. In fact it they will take it as a compliment! I have a friend called Drew (short for Andrew) Edwards. I called the main character in my story Eddie Drew. He loves it!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'baitey' is an uncommon surname, so you may want to make sure your friend won't mind, before using that one... or change it to the common spelling, 'beatty'...
     
  8. FindJoyInLife
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    FindJoyInLife New Member

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    I was a teacher for a few years before I started writing and I've used some of the unique surnames of students I had in my classes in my works. I've never used a student's full (first and last) name because I feel like it could put them in an uncomfortable position down the line though.

    Quite frankly, if you're writing and you feel like the name of a friend, neighbour, professor, or whomever is the name that works best in the work, I think you should go with it. You should never detract from the quality of your own writing just because a friend might find it awkward, and if you think it really is going to be that big of a problem just ask first.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Really? I've heard of Baiteys but I've never met any Beattys. You're probably right, though.

    I have a super rare last name, but there's a famous novel/movie where one of the characters shares my last name -- I'm sure it's coincidential and not related to any of my ancestors, so no, no one will think about it or care.
     
  10. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    be pretty hard for anyone to prove it's them...unless the character...well...is them.
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seconded--and you also say 'your Muslim friend'--this is not a surname you would associate with a Muslim, unless they were a convert or from a mixed marriage. If you want a Muslim surname, keep looking, e.g. at Syrian or Turkish surnames which often sound pretty 'western' i.e. non-arabic e.g. Tartan, Alp, Aldin...
     

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